Movie Review: 'Celeste & Jesse Forever' (2012)

Are you familiar with the old saying about having “too much of a good thing”? Having an indie comedy that stars Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg and Ari Graynor sounds like an amazingly good thing, unfortunately it does not lead to a great movie. "Celeste & Jesse Forever" centers on a separated couple that remain best friends despite their collapsing marriage.

‘Celeste & Jesse Forever’ is a hodgepodge of moments where the characters spend most of their time feeling sorry for things, that they are either to blame for or are failing to hold accountable the person who is. It is trying so desperately to stand out and be an anti-romantic comedy that it loses any momentum or emotion it might’ve possessed. 

As is the case with most movies currently centering on Californians, Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are hipsters that feel their problems are bigger than the world. Celeste has a cushy job, a nice house and pleasant friends.

Jesse is living in the guest house (?) and mopes/whines to his obnoxious friend who does nothing but make things worse. Such is the generation of over-indulged foolery and constant self-obsession. As Sia so eloquently put it with the title of her 2008 album; “Some People Have Real Problems”.

Celeste is a better person than Jesse, she cares about his feelings. He just says he does. Sadly, she joins the ranks of most women in romantic comedies. A woman who is so great, the man she’s with can’t deal with it, and she is to blame. According to the standard rom-com, this archetypal female is always the problem in the relationship. She is just asking too much. Right…

The script is all over the place, trying to be humorous while, director Lee Toland Krieger works to maintain a painstakingly depressing atmosphere. The darkened cinematography makes L.A. feel like Seattle during the Dark Ages.

Rashida Jones is as always, entertaining as she tries to save the film from falling into disastrous chaos. She has some funny moments but spends most of the film in hyper-active over-drive trying to distract from the awful script. Seeing a woman hit rock bottom after a failed relationship can only be portrayed so gleefully and quite frankly it isn’t entertaining, in the first place.

Andy Samberg whose character Jesse is apparently, the moral center, of the film doesn’t fare well at all. He has shined in so many other roles and here he just falls flat. Maybe it’s the mumblecore nature of the film but he seems lost as to what exactly the direction of the film is supposed to be, as is the audience.

Ari Graynor and Eric Christian Olsen bring some much needed punch to the screen; Graynor nailing some very well realized zingers and reaction shots. Emma Roberts plays “Emma Roberts” from every other movie she’s been in.

As fantastic as indie movies are, this is a huge letdown from start to finish. The beginning, middle, and end are all equally terrible. The overwrought problems that people encounter in this film are of their own making, though they act as if it occurred in a vacuum, and the amount of leeway they grant the person that is causing them heartache is over-the-top ridiculous. ‘Celeste & Jesse Forever’ will have you wishing you had said “never”. Rating: 4/10

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